CALGARY — Thanks to Elias Lindholm extending his goal streak to seven games, the Calgary Flames extended their winning streak to nine.
Lindholm notched the game-winner at 7:31 of the third period on Saturday as Calgary overcame a superb goaltending performance from Philipp Grubauer to win 2-1 over the Seattle Kraken.
“Big players come up in big moments of the game,” said Jacob Markstrom, Lindholm’s Swedish countryman, who made 22 saves to improve to 22-10-5.
Lindholm has nine goals over the span and is up to 22 on the season. Assisting on Matthew Tkachuk’s first-period goal as well, he also has a nine-game point streak (eight goals, seven assists).
“He’s really good player, he’s got a really good shot, and he’s got a really good feel for the game in terms of finding that seam,” said Flames coach Darryl Sutter.
On the winning goal, Lindholm corralled the rebound in the slot after a Chris Tanev point shot, spun, and sent a wrist shot just inside the goal post.
“We got one early there in the first and wanted to get some momentum off that but they played tight,” said Lindholm. “There’s gonna be nights where we just have to stay with it and chances will come sooner or later and when they come, you’ve got to put them in.”
With 48 points in 48 games, the 27-year-old center is on pace for a career-best season.
“He’s been scoring goals but he’s been, defensively, one of the best players that I’ve ever seen or played with,” Markstrom said. “So, it’s a pleasure to be out there watching him and be out there on the ice with him and I’m happy I’m on the same team and not playing against him.”
Tkachuk also had a two-point night for Calgary (29-13-6). The Flames will look to complete a perfect seven-game homestand and extend the win streak to a franchise record-tying 10 when they play host to the Winnipeg Jets on Monday.
“Right now we just want to win. You want to keep winning. I don’t think anybody’s looking at that,” said Markstrom. “We want to keep the momentum and keep getting two points. That’s the only thing that matters right now.”
Calle Jarnkrok scored the lone goal for Seattle (16-31-4). The Kraken, who have lost three straight, wrap up a three-game road trip in Vancouver on Monday.
Coming into the night, Calgary had won five games in a row by three or more goals for the first time in franchise history. The Flames had outscored teams 37-13 over that stretch, but this game would prove to be a more difficult test.
“They’re a really good team,” said Grubauer, who had 35 saves. “They always put a lot of pucks towards the net. They always have a guy or two guys in front of me to get tips or get screens in.”
After giving up a goal on the first shot, Grubauer slammed the door on the Flames, stopping the next 32 shots.
“He did a real good job tonight. He was solid from the word go,” said Kraken coach Dave Hakstol. “He made some big saves at good times, which you need on the road against a good team.”
Grubauer’s record falls to 12-21-4.
In keeping the score 1-1, Grubauer stretched out his pad late in the first to rob Flames leading goal-scorer Andrew Mangiapane on a one-timer. He then got a blocker on another dangerous chance from Mangiapane early in the second.
“We’ve given up the first goal in I don’t know how many games, or first shot, first goal. Always the next save is the most important, and the next one and the next one,” Grubauer said. “Timely saves. Timely hits. Timely goals. Those are key moments of the game.”
Mangiapane ends up having his seven-game point streak snapped. Johnny Gaudreau had his point streak end at eight games.
Markstrom’s best stop came four minutes into the second period when he slid across the crease with an old fashioned stacking of the pads to rob Jordan Eberle after he was set up by Alex Wennberg.
“Kind of a desperation save, obviously,” said Markstrom. “A little quick two-on-one and he made a good pass and it just kind of happens and luckily for me it worked out well and got the crowd going a little bit, so that was fun to hear.”
Calgary opened the scoring for the 31st time at 3:02 of the first period when Lindholm centered a pass to Tkachuk, cruising through the slot, before he beat Grubauer high on the glove side for his 24th goal.
Seattle pulled even 10 minutes later when Noah Hanifin blindly sent the puck into his own slot where the only player there was Jarnkrok, who quickly whipped a shot past a surprised Markstrom.
NOTES: Before the game, the Flames honoured longtime captain Mark Giordano, who was playing his first regular-season game back in Calgary, where he played for 15 seasons and logged 949 career games, second all-time to Jarome Iginla. The half-capacity crowd gave him a 60-second standing ovation. … Mikael Backlund played career game No. 792, moving him ahead of Theoren Fleury and into fifth on the Flames all-time list. … Gaudreau leads the NHL in plus-minus at plus-40.